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Marcy's Girls: Having a blast, celebrating just stayin' alive

   Marcy's Girls: breast cancer survivors celebrating surviving, with some high-speed rides around Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo: Dorsey Patrick)

   By Mike Mulhern

   You can't miss these pink pace cars.
   Even in a season where NASCAR team painters seem to be outrageously inventive with color schemes for Sunday's stockers, these pink pace cars do stand out.
   The reason?
   Well, consider this:  
   Like Richard Petty once said, during one of those once not-so-infrequent stretches of death and destruction along the stock car trail, when good friends were dying much too soon, and much too quickly, "At the end of the day, always say 'Goodbye' to someone like it might be the last time you ever see him…..because it just might be.'"
   Jim Hunter's gone now. Jeff Byrd too. Les Richter. Richard Jackson. Ed Shull. Jerry Long. Earl Brooks. Judy Tucker. Raymond Parks. Jake Elder. Fathers and mothers, family and friends. Everyone has his own list…..
   But these pink pace cars are here for those on the other side, those still fighting the good fight.
   And there are many.
   Like Sonoma's John Cardinale, PR boss at Infineon, battling cancer, and dealing with all those hassles.
   Like Atlanta's Marcy Scott, PR boss here, battling cancer too.
   And here, pink pace cars to celebrate the survivors.
   So Scott, a cancer survivor herself now in the 'recovery stage' of it all, was quite in her element early Friday morning, shepherding some 30 fellow breast cancer survivors around Atlanta Motor Speedway with 150-mph ride-alongs in the special pink pace cars -- just for the thrill of it all, with driving by Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Ron Hornaday, all hard-bitten NASCAR racers who were nevertheless still struck by the emotions of the day.


Marcy Scott and Jamie McMurray at the wheel (Photo: Marcy Scott)


   Pace car ride-alongs are an almost daily ritual at NASCAR tracks, but rarely if ever have the people in the ride-along seat been so taken by it all.
   NASCAR drivers are well-known for their charities and charity work.
   Carl Edwards, for example, is working with the Aflac Cancer Center.
   Tony Stewart hosts a June charity race at Eldora.
   Jimmie Johnson has his 'Helmet of Hope.'
   Kyle Petty has Victory Junction.
   Brad Keselowski does the Wounded Warrior Project.
   The list goes on.
   But pink pace cars here, well, that makes a statement: "We decided to make them pink to make a statement," Maria Stenbom, a breast cancer survivor and Chevrolet marketing manager, says.
   That's why pink pace cars at the head of the field for this week's Testosterone 500.
   In a sense, it's about the softer side of NASCAR.
   And then in a sense it's about the tougher side too….where reality overrides the fun and games.

   Scott is a 20-year veteran in this sport, now PR director at this track, where she pretty much runs things, along with track president Ed Clark, who is wearing a pink shirt on this day, in support of Marcy and Friends.
   October will be breast cancer awareness month, and here this weekend were women who had stared death in the face and survived….just to have a fun day at the track, and to help promote cancer awareness.

    Wheelman Clint Bowyer, ready to give Delta's Alice Ramsey a 150-mph thrill at Atlanta (Photo: Dorsey Patrick)

   Scott was first diagnosed with Stage Three breast cancer in the spring of 2009.
  Since then she has been battered and bruised by doctors, burned by radiation treatments, lost her hair, gone through every indignity that any cancer family too well understands. She has been in pain every day: "I've gotten so used to it, that it has become a way of life. You don't
realize it's an issue until you verbalize it and realize how not normal
it is to be in pain every day."
   Her latest blog entry: "Good news following surgery No. 9…. No complications! I had surgery on Friday, August 19, stayed on pain pills for only 24 hours and went back to work on Monday, August 22."
   Work is right here at this track on the southside of town…and Friday work included a series of 150-mph rides.
   For one pink-shirt survivor here, Alice Ramsey, a Delta flight attendant, and a breast cancer survivor for five years, this was her first trip to a NASCAR track. Chemo…mastectomy….and in 2006 she started a foundation, the Pink Posse of Georgia (www.pinkposse.com), to help other survivors pay their water and light bills during chemo, and provide rides.
    When Ramsey finally returned to work at Delta, she started wearing a pink dress during Octobers. (Delta supports a Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York City, Ramsey personally raised $40,000 last year for the foundation by telling her story on planes, with fliers donating or buying 'pink' lemonade. Delta even painted a 767 pink.)
    "We're all sisters…sorority sisters -- but of a sorority we didn't rush for and wouldn't have picked," Ramsey says. "We treasure all the memories you made for all of us. What a gift. What a fun day with such strong  women who fight the fight every day."

   Scott was declared cancer-free in December 2009. But the story doesn't stop there.
   "Every cancer diagnosis is different," Scott says. "Very few people have the same exact cancer. I was Stage Three; it was in my lymph nodes.
    "I have the BRCA1 gene, a marker that means I was born with this and predisposed to having this disease…which is why the mastectomy was recommended and why the hysterectomy was recommended.
   "You beat the cancer….but because of the mastectomy you have to rebuild, reconstruct the breasts. You'll never be normal; they just call it 'the new normal.'
   "I wish in my heart of hearts I didn't need them. There's part of me that wishes I was 70 and didn't care, and just say 'Screw the world,' and not have to worry about doing reconstruction.
   "But I'm young.
   "And even after all this reconstruction, I'm still not done, because they have to be replaced every 10 years.
   "So it's something I'll have to be dealing with the rest of my life.
    "I wish I didn't need them. But I want to be normal….you want people to look at you normal."



     NASCAR drivers' 'Give back' takes many forms, like Kurt Busch here, on a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


So when Chevrolet officials proposed the pink pace car promotion here, it became something very personal for Scott, who worked with the local Cancer Society and Piedmont Hospital, where she is treated,
    "One in eight women will get this. One in eight," Scott says.
    "It's scary….it's devastating.
    "I think when people think of breast cancer that it's just something to deal with when you get old. But it's not. I have met a girl here who was diagnosed when she was 16. Just 16. One of the women here was 26 when she was diagnosed. I was 37 when I was diagnosed.
   "I was always taught when I was growing up, 'Self exam….self exam.' Well, 'self exam' saves lives."
    Getting the day-job here done, around chemo sessions and surgeries, hasn't always been easy. "I am so grateful for Ed and my co-workers here for being so understanding, and letting me fight….." Scott says.
    "But I haven't been able to see my doctor for the follow-up to my latest surgery; I've just told him I don't have time yet.
    "I believe we've got one more surgery; I want it in December, because I really don't want to max out my medical deductible four years in a row….
     "Fingers crossed, that will be the last one, and we'll be done."
    Of course dealing with cancer is more than just doctors and hospitals and physical pain.
   "I am extremely grateful to Piedmont Hospital for its program Cancer Wellness…for people going through treatment and for survivors – because they believe that beating cancer is so much more than just treating the disease," Scott says. "It's the mental aspect, it's the nutrition, it's the exercise….
   "It's a community - being able to meet people who understand what you are going through.
   "I have the most incredible friends and supporters in this NASCAR community…but it's just so different being able to talk to someone who understands what you're going through.
   "It's a sisterhood that no one wants to join…"


   GM's Maria Stenbom, Chevrolet's manager for digital/social motorsports marketing (Photo: Dorsey Patrick)








Good artical. I teared up at

Good article. I teared up at the women's stories.

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